ZIMBABWE Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) this week issued an ultimatum on behalf of Harare residents to the water parastatal, Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa),
giving it a week to account for the funds it received from the central bank to deal with the water and sewage crisis in the city.
In a letter sent to Zinwaâ€™s chairperson on Wednesday, the lawyers said many Zimbabweans were faced with the threat of cholera and other diseases such as diarrhoea due to water shortages. They said the ailments were continuing despite the fact that the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and government had on several occasions provided the water utility with significant sums of money and other forms of assistance to enable it to respond to the water shortages and sewage management.
â€œIn the premise ZLHR, on behalf of the residents of Harare, calls upon Zinwa to â€¦immediately give an account of Zinwaâ€™s expenditure and use of the monies given to it to respond to the water and sewage crisis,â€ reads the ZHLR letter.
The human rights lawyers in the same letter ordered Zinwa to immediately provide Harare residents with up to date information on the situation of water supplies in their areas, and to ensure the provision of clean water to all residents of Harare.
The lawyers said they will take legal action if Zinwa fails to meet its demands by December 1.
â€œShould Zinwa fail to take the action highlighted above with immediate effect, with progress being evident no later than December 1, we shall have no option but to proceed with legal action against you as advised by our clients and residents of Harare,â€ the lawyers said.
They also said failure by Zinwa to fulfil its statutory obligation had led to many residential areas across Harare, especially areas such as Budiriro, Glen View, Mabvuku, and Chitungwiza going for months without constant water supplies.
According to the letter, the little water that residents have been receiving from Zinwa is in fact unhealthy as a result of Zinwaâ€™s failure to refurbish Harareâ€™s water supply system.
The lawyers accused Zinwa of unethical conduct for dumping untreated sewage into Lake Chivero â€” Harareâ€™s main water source â€” and for billing residents for monthly water consumption when in many cases they have not had water supplies for months.
By Lucia Makamure